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February 15th, 2022

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

--John Ruskin--


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Help Needed

Upcoming Events

Volunteer Opportunities

Stories to Share

Advanced Training

Member Spotlight


Important information on the latest in CAMN.

CAMN Chapter Meeting
Wednesday, February 23rd  | 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Zoom link.

Join other CAMN members to catch up on the latest chapter news and a presentation by outdoor enthusiast, designer, inclusion advocate and founder of Tawa Threads, Tabria Williford.  During her presentation, Ms. Williford will share her travel experiences and provide insight into practices that help cultivate an inclusive sense of exploration for everyone.

The presentation earns one hour of advanced training.  

CAMN Social Media

Have you visited CAMN social media sites recently?  We are posting more frequently and content is geared towards both members and the community at large.  We have photos, fun facts and happenings.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook.  For insider info on volunteer service and advanced training opportunities, join our CAMN Members Only Group.

Annual Dues

We are collecting dues which are $20 per year.  Dues are still voluntary at this time and are not a requirement for recertification.  However, dues allow our chapter to have a predictable revenue stream to support operating expenses, materials, programs, projects, and scholarships.  Members of the 2022 class are not expected to pay dues in 2022.  

  • You may pay dues via PayPal, please note that it is for 2022.
  • You may send a check to CAMN, Austin Nature and Science Center, 2389 Stratford Dr, Austin, TX 7874

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Help Needed

Special requests for assistance!

Community Engagement Meeting
Thursday, March 10th | 6:30 p.m.

CAMN member Carolyn Mixon has proposed a project to restore a prairie/post oak savanna habitat on an unused portion of the Austin Memorial Park Cemetery on Hancock Drive.  The project has been presented to the Parks and Recreation Department and other stakeholders and has garnered support.

There will be a virtual Community Engagement Meeting on March 10th at 6:30 p.m. where the project will be presented to the community and questions and comments will be taken. Interested CAMN members are invited to attend the presentation and wear green in support of the project.  

The presentation counts as advanced training.  For more information about the project and a link to register for the meeting, click here.

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Stories to Share

A closer look at the people and opportunities connected to CAMN

A Walk Down the CAMN Memory Lane

Jane Tillman and I are the only active members of the class of 2001.  Recently I had the pleasure of volunteering with her son who applied for the CAMN class of 2022.  Back in the olden days, in addition to walking both ways up hill in the snow…..CAMN trainings consisted of eight consecutive Saturdays of training with one weekend off in the middle so folks could attend the annual meeting.  Nine weeks start to finish.  Ours was the last of the twice-a-year training classes.  That’s right the curriculum committee presented a spring AND a fall training class.  Melissa Macdougall was primarily responsible for our training and I considered her my den mother, and she became a dear friend.  I loved the training and felt my focus should be to use that training on the ground and in the field, so I studiously avoided any service to the organization until 2014 when I yielded to a call for help with the curriculum committee.  Melissa laughed at me and told me it was about time I realized I could do both.  Prior to joining CAMN I had been recruited to volunteer at Wild Basin by Mike Powers, and I’ve continued to volunteer there through all the ups and downs over the past twenty years.  During the first couple years with CAMN, I planted trees with Tree Folks and it's fun now to drive around Austin and see saplings grown into shade trees.  Another memorable project was helping folks at the COA rehab an area along a newly acquired section of Barton Creek that had for years been a favorite haunt of “pot-heads”.  Not smokers, the other kind--those who dig for indigenous artifacts.  We mostly filled holes over a large area that looked like a B52 bombing range before we started, but several archaeologists dug a small sample area of previously undisturbed soil and allowed us to observe.  

Back in the day, although we submitted an application, basically the first thirty submissions were accepted.  I’m told that all changed when one applicant was deemed inappropriate.  Since then, I’ve watched the application and admission process become more and more complex in the laudable effort to increase the diversity of the training classes.  I have to admit that one constant from back in the day until today is attrition.  Some folks go through the training and then fail to ever volunteer.  Some others who do initially volunteer tire of the reporting process and they keep volunteering, but just stop submitting hours!

So why do I keep with it?  The most important thing becoming a Texas Master Naturalist taught me was to ask questions and get out there on the ground to answer them.  For example, where does your water go?  Where does the rain go once it falls in your yard?  Answering that question several years ago led me to a beautiful grotto on Red Bud Trail on the west side of Lady Bird lake.  On that initial excursion, I discovered my first native orchid Bletia (Hexalectris) spicata.  But my training also told me to look closer at the ground of my yard and I found a karst feature.  Having volunteered at COA properties, I knew how to clear and protect the feature.  Staying in the CAMN program requires that I keep learning and at a recent Sierra Club meeting, I learned that my karst feature has another name: a swallet. Just saying the word swallet is fun!  Swallet!!!!  And I owe it all to the Texas Master Naturalist program.  

Of course, most importantly, I’ve met some of the kindest, most sharing, and knowledgeable folks I could ever imagine.

Words and photos by John Barr, CAMN Class of 2001

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Upcoming Events

Volunteer. Learn. Connect.

COVID Precautions in Austin/Travis County:  Still Stage Five 

Small groups, social distancing and masks indoors and out are recommended even for fully vaccinated individuals. 

Here are documents of regularly scheduled events during regular times. Always check with a partner agency for latest information and COVID prevention requirements.
  • Calendar of volunteer and training opportunities.
  • List of volunteer opportunities
  • List of advanced training opportunities. 
  • List of pre-approved CAMN partners and projects.  Activities hosted by a pre-approved partner do not require individual pre-approval if the activity supports the mission of the TXMN program.



Invasive Species Removal at BFL
Saturday, February 19th | 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

We will be removing the prolific Nadina domestica and Ligustrum sinense in a select area of the Brackenridge Field Lab.  We have tools and gloves but you are welcome to bring your own.  Dress for the weather and bring water.  

Register in advance or just show up in the parking lot at 2907 Lake Austin Blvd. a bit before 9:00 a.m.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management BFL

It's My Park Day
Saturday, March 5th

Participate in one or more projects hosted by the Austin Parks Foundation and Austin Parks and Recreation Department.  The Austin Parks Foundation also needs help from March 3rd - March 7th to organize, supply and staff the event.

Check out projects and register here.  Projects are filling up fast!
VMS Category:  RM or NPA depending on type of work done.

Bird Survey at Brackenridge Field Lab
Sunday, March 6th | 7:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Perhaps early migration will be starting up?  Let's go see!  Brackenridge Field Lab, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, 78703.  Bring binoculars, water and dress for the weather. Closed-toe shoes a must. Email Cheryl or call (512) 636-5835 if you would like to join. 
VMS category:  FR: Brackenridge Field Lab

McKinney Falls Field Trip Heroes
Thursday, March 10th | 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

On Thursday, March 10th, about eighty Regents School of Austin third-graders will be visiting the park.  The Interpretive Ranger is looking for volunteers experienced in working with elementary school-aged students or interested in facilitating/creating hands-on outdoor education experiences. Share your passion for the natural world with the next generation! Field trip topics range from geology, wildlife, aquatic science, history, Leave No Trace, and more!

For more information or to sign up, click here.  
VMS category:  TR:  McKinney Falls State Park

Chaetura Canyon Workday
Saturday, March 19th | 8:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Chaetura Canyon, one of three sanctuaries owned by the Travis Audubon Society, was conceived and created by Paul and Georgean Kyle for the preservation and promotion of Chimney Swifts. Under their stewardship, the preserve has become one of the best examples of small to medium size land restoration in Central Texas. The morning will begin with a walk & talk presentation with Georgean and Paul Kyle which counts as advanced training.  After the walk, participants will spend two to three hours working to restore sanctuary habitat.

COVID precautions do not allow entry into the residence. Please bring your own snacks, water, work gloves, etc.  All activities will be outside and masks are required if in close proximity. A new sheltered composting toilet is available onsite. The event is free but donations are welcome to support the preserve.

Register in advance, the event is limited to ten participants.  For questions, email CAMN Member Mark Wilson or call him at 512-497-0744. The Kyle's will send out more detailed instructions the week before the trip.
VMS Category:  NPA: Nature/Public Access

Runs through April 30, 2022

Join this decades long citizen-science project to help monitor the distribution and abundance of winter bird populations.  The data may be collected in your own yard or another site of your choice.  For more information and to join, click here.
VMS Category:  FR, Field Research

Blair Woods Workdays
Every Wednesday from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Help restore the Audubon Society Blair Woods preserve in East Austin.  Work includes trail maintenance, removal of invasive species and care of the pollinator garden.  After orientation, volunteers work autonomously.  Email Mark Wilson or Flo Rice to arrange initial orientation.
VMS Category:  RM, Resource Management


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Black Lace Cactus:  Occurrence and Genetic Relationships
Wednesday, February 16th | 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Echinocereus fitchii subsp. albertii, also known as Echinocereus reichenbachii var. albertii, is a south Texas endemic. The plant, commonly called black lace cactus, is listed as a federally and state endangered species. Join conservation biologists Shannon Fehlberg and Paula S. Williamson in a discussion of their research on this endangered species.  This is one in a series of webinars on Wildlife Diversity presented by TPWD.

Register in advance.

The Buzz on Hummingbirds
Friday, February 18th | 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Join Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Dr. Tania Homayoun for a talk about the hummingbird's amazing biology, species you may find in Texas, and ways you can help these fascinating visitors to our gardens and feeders.  Hosted by the Wildland Conservation Division as part of their Wild Neighbors Series.

Register in advance.

Geophytes of Texas
Monday, February 21st | 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Join botanist Alice LeDuc in a discussion of Geophytes: plants which have an underground storage structure.  Tulips, daffodils, and irises are primary examples of this type of plant; Dr. LeDuc will introduce the many Texas native Geophytes.  

A virtual presentation hosted by the Hill Country Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas.  Meeting via Zoom, no need to pre-register.

Native Plant Society of Texas Spring Symposium
Saturday, March 5th | 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

A full day of advanced training is presented in collaboration with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  The day ends with a virtual tour of the Wildflower Center.

More information about the speakers and topics and a link to registration, here. Fees:  $20 for NPSOT members, $30 for non-members.

Community Engagement Meeting
Thursday, March 10th | 6:30 p.m.

Attend a presentation on a proposed plan to restore an unused portion of Austin Memorial Park Cemetery to a native prairie and post oak savanna habitat.  Cemeteries are increasingly being considered for mixed use for both humans and wildlife.  

Register for the meeting.  Please wear green to the meeting to show support for the project.

Science Under the Stars:  Pregnancy in the Animal Kingdom
Thursday, March 10th | 7:00 p.m.

Visit the SUTS Facebook page or website for a link to the presentation.

CAMN Book Club
Tuesday, March 22nd | 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The CAMN Book Club is excited about our first book of 2022, Bicycling with Butterflies by Sara Dykman. A winner of the National Outdoor Book Awards of 2021, Bicycling with Butterflies is a fantastic book about Sara's adventure of bicycling with the monarch butterflies  from Mexico, to Canada and back, over 10,000 miles.  It describes her journey by bike along with the monarchs and her passions for the natural world she discovers along the way, including stops in Austin and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in North Texas.  You can read more about Sara, her book, and her adventures at

The Book Club will meet on March 22 at 7:00 via Zoom to discuss this great book. Attending the Book Club meeting and discussing the book with your fellow CAMN members earns one hour of advanced training.  

Contact David Cook or Bianca Esquivel for more information or questions.

What's That?  Plant ID for Everyone
Wednesday, March 30th | 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Part of the Plant Party webinar series which is a collaboration between the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. These quarterly webinars provide advanced training on the flora of Texas.  Register.

Native Landscape Certification Program
Saturday, April 2nd | 8:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m.

Level-one NLCP, offered in Austin.  Learn about the benefits of native plants, desirable plants for our area and design considerations for local landscapes. NLCP is a state-wide program, but classes focus on the characteristics and plants in the region in which they are taught.

This hybrid class includes a Zoom presentation and an in-person plant walk. The content is specific to the greater-Austin area.  Fees are $45.  For more information, a class schedule and a link to register, click here.

The second Tuesday of each month | 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Earn an hour of advanced training by viewing a video, either live or recorded.  Each month is a new topic relevant to the TMN Program.  For more information, visit the TXMN website.

Note that viewing videos from 2021 do not count as advanced training for 2022.

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Member Spotlight

Get to know a fellow naturalist.

Meet CAMN Member Kathrine (Kat) Ross

What year and with which chapter did you train to be a master naturalist?

The CAMN Class of 2017.

What is your favorite or most frequent volunteer activity with CAMN?

One of the things I love about CAMN is that there’s so many interesting things to choose from…and I like having options!  I previously served as Chapter Secretary in 2019 and was involved with the Education and Outreach Committee.  I currently serve as a Class Coordinator, Mentor, and I am the Interim Co-Chair of the DEI Committee.  I like knowing that as my interests change and evolve, I can still find a place within CAMN to learn and serve.  

What would you say is your focus as a naturalist?

Birds captured my interest early in life.  Growing up, I always had at least a couple of chickens and domestic ducks.  Their behaviors and personalities fascinated me, and it was better than watching TV.  However, my avian interest took a turn when I took an Ornithology course in college. Game on.  I officially caught the birding bug and never looked back!  

What do you do outside of CAMN?

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been passionate about volunteer work.  I started out as a volunteer with the Children’s Hospital of Austin, Dell Children’s Medical Center, and with camps for children with diabetes. After college, I volunteered with the Travis Audubon Society, and I got my hands dirty (literally) at Austin Wildlife Rescue’s Intake Center.  I coordinated Travis Audubon’s Young Birders Club for two years and led a team of young birders in The Great Texas Birding Classic, which is a birding tournament organized by Texas Parks and Wildlife.  

I have been working in the pharmaceutical and medical insurance industry for ten years and whenever I get a chance, I like to explore new and familiar parks and preserves.  And of course, my binoculars are never too far.  

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